12 May, 2009

Fujitsu LifeBook P8020 Review

Fujitsu currently makes 18 notebook models for the US market ranging from the 16-inch LifeBook N7010 desktop replacement to the extreme ultra portable 5.6-inch LifeBook U820. Many of these models are Tablet PCs that feature either swivel convertible or the slate designs. While many notebook makers, most noticeably Apple and Sony, have left the 12.1-inch notebook market, Fujitsu thrives on it largely thanks to touch screen Tablet PC technology. Aside from the two slate style 12-inch notebooks, Fujitsu offers 2 convertible Tablet PC models and two non-Tablet PC models in 12.1-inch size. In some ways, this helps ultralight notebook shoppers decide which model fits their needs and desires. To further separate the two non-Tablet PC models, the LifeBook P8020 and the LifeBook B6230, Fujitsu gave the P8020 the faster Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 (Penryn) processor and a super-light chasis that weighs only 2.9 pounds. In contrast, the B6230 has the Intel Core 2 Duo Ultra Low voltage U7600 (Merom) processor, a touch-sensitive screen and a heavier (3.2 lbs), more durable magnesium-alloy body.

Fujitsu P8020 notebook

The Fujitsu LifeBook P8020 runs on the Intel Core 2 Duo processor SU9400 at 1.40GHz with 2GB memory and a 160GB hard drive. Since the Fujitsu P8020 is available build-to-order, you can up the ante on the memory and hard drive to 4GB of memory and up to 320GB HDD or a 128GB SSD if you have the cash. For example, if you upgrade the notebook’s memory to 4GB and the storage option to 128GB SSD, the price jumps from $1,799 to $2,899.

Design and Ergonomics

Compared to the Toshiba Portege A600 12.1-inch notebook, the Fujitsu LifeBook P8020 is a light one. Measuring 10.79 x 8.27 x 1.12 inches and weighing 2.9 pounds, the LifeBook P8020 is both slimmer and lighter than the Portege. The notebook has a matte black body with a shiny piano black lid that adds a touch of style while still being suitable for business. If you’re looking for a business-oriented notebook that’s easy to carry, the Fujitsu feels incredibly light in hand yet isn’t too small for spreadsheet work and web surfing in readable font sizes.

The 82-key US keyboard feels good to type on and has both adequate travel and tactile feedback when you press the keys. The keyboard has a normal layout. The touchpad below the keyboard is a bit different: it supports gesture touch. For example, you can pinch in and out with two fingers on the touchpad to zoom in and out on a page, similar to recent Apple MacBook models’ trackpads and the iPhone’s touch screen. You can also use the touchpad to scroll pages using the right-edge of the touchpad or draw circles on the touchpad. While we liked the cool gesture support, we found the cursor tended to drift even after we stopped using the touchpad. Annoying. Unlike many notebooks’ smooth touchpads, the Fujitsu’s touchpad has a “rough” surface and it sits almost flush with the wrist rest area, both of which take some getting used to.

The fingerprint reader lives between the two mouse buttons, and works with the embedded TPM. The system LED lights live above the keyboard next to four quick launch buttons that launch Support, Power saving mode, Presentation mode and web browser. The notebook’s power on button is conveniently located here as well, next to the quick launch buttons, and the notebook’s dual speakers flank the LED and menu buttons. The 1.3 megapixel webcam is integrated in the bezel above the display.

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